The investigative subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee came to that conclusion after delving for more than a year into offshore tax evasion.
In one tax shelter, detailed in the investigators’ lengthy report, $2 billion in capital gains were sheltered from taxation in an arrangement known as POINT, or Personally Optimized Investment Transaction, which took advantage of offshore secrecy.
Its promoters created the tax shelter by making billions of dollars in securities transactions to generate billions of dollars in capital losses, but the transactions were all fake, the investigators concluded.
They were nonetheless used by investors to offset their capital gains and erase taxes owed, and the government lost $300 million, the panel said. Promoters of the scheme told the investigators that the transactions were valid under U.S. tax laws.
The committee’s report, prepared for a Tuesday hearing, describes offshore tax havens as a “black box” that allows wealthy Americans to hide money from taxation, regulation and law enforcement. They hide the money with the backing of “an armada of professionals,” the report found.
In some cases, the arrangements take the form of a trust or corporation that makes it appear that money sent offshore is no longer in the user’s control. Stashing money overseas can run afoul of tax laws when the money continues to be controlled or spent by the person funneling money into the trust or corporation.